Requiem— Downtown Toledo, RIP

. May 7, 2019.

And now, the inevitable decline.

Downtown revitalization seemed so promising. We have detailed all the good things happening over the past several years right here in these column inches. We have applauded the successes and named names of those responsible. We have also noted the laggards and the impediments.

We have opined on what it would take to boost the momentum to a new level. Never have we warned of a slide toward catastrophe. Until now. All good things must end, or so they say. But we never would have predicted it would come to an end this fast.

Here are the signs of the coming Downtown apocalypse.

1. The death of Potbelly. We have noted regularly that only value-added industries like manufacturing grow wealth. Entertainment and service only spreads it around. And without a growing population, it can get spread too thin.

Enter Downtown Toledo. The revitalization has been spurred by sports and entertainment venues, restaurants, and bars. Bringing Promedica downtown increases the captive patrons for these venues during the daytime, but not enough to sustain the massive increase in venues over the past year or so.

The growth has been lopsided toward one economic sector, entertainment. Downtown needs retail and other amenities to bring and keep economic activity there. Until the predicted growth of downtown residency occurs, while commercial space sits empty, and while large building like those on the corners of Huron and Madison languish, there isn’t a big enough entertainment-dollar pie to split again and again.

The closure of Potbelly is the harbinger of growing too fast, too soon. The growth has split the baby in an unsustainable way. Look for more closures to come.

2. Alphabet city. DTID (Downtown Improvement Corporation). DTDC (Downtown Development Corporation). PAC (Parking Advisory Committee). And now a new proposal for some unpronounceable string of letters to control parking downtown. DRPLIAC, or some such nonsense, which sounds like a pharmaceutical that induces vomiting.
Behind every one of these acronyms is another executive director, another board, another fiefdom with a cloistered agenda for downtown. The money flows into them, and never the twain shall meet.

What is needed is one unified vision for downtown. One agenda. One timeline, one budget, one set of strategic priorities, one group held accountable for enacting it. Instead we have a mishmash of letters. Alphabet soup. With little accomplished other than draining cash into some executive directors’ pockets..

3. Out to lunch. And then there’s much ado about parking. Just as Downtown gets going, some chuckleheads have decided expanding the hours of parking meter enforcement and eliminating free parking at lunch is a good idea.

No one with a brain agrees. Everyone supports free lunchtime parking. Patrons don’t want a change, and neither do downtown business owners. Sorta begs the question. Who exactly does want it?

The Kapszukiewicz Administration, apparently. They proposed the bad idea to Council and are pushing a full speed ahead approach.

As lunch spots start to fail, and the alphabet soup-types flail and flounder, we need cool-headed leadership. Instead we get a vision of gung-ho meter maids. Only Toledo City Council stands in the way of a disaster.

We hate to say it, but we gotta say it. We’re doomed.

  • Not Again

    The capitalists tried to revitalize Toledo in the form of free market investing. Unfortunately, in Toledo, socialism and cronyism is too strong. The controlling dems will never allow a revitalization of downtown. Frankly, I was surprised that anyone would waste their own money in the attempt.

    • Michael J. Young

      You’re clueless. Stay in Morenci or Archbold or wherever you reside. You obviously haven’t been downtown.

  • every time the private sector find some way to bring people to downtown and spend money Toledo city government gets jealous and tells them you can make all the money you want you just need to give us $1.01 for every dollar we allow you to make

    • Susan Illich

      Hey Bob (and Not Again) — the main reason that downtown has a pulse is because of public-led projects like the Mud Hens stadium and the Huntington Center. Corporate capitalism has left Toledo a toxic ruin. It will take collective action through City/County govt’s and engaged citizens to make Toledo a decent place to live. Businesses have a role to play, but don’t get it twisted.

    • Michael J. Young

      Bob. I agree that the loss of free lunch parking is a mistake. The City will learn and change it. Meanwhile things are booming. Stop being so cynical

  • Michael J. Young

    Well you should be used to this, so I doubt if this will hurt, but you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m a city planner in San Diego, and Toledo’s downtown renaissance is among the most revered chronicles of urban revitalization in the last 20 years… and it’s not slowing at all. You have no clue why any business failed, and your suggestion that there are too many organizations involved in downtown revitalization are absurd. I’ve been a city planner for 37 years and downtowns fail due to a LACK of interest, not too much, Toledo in general is gaining population and so is downtown. There’s an influx of young entrepreneurs and innovators who appreciate Toledo’s many assets. So if you’d like to just leave, and take your low information negative attitude with you… please. Go. Toledo will be fine without you.

    • Not Again

      You stupid communist, no wonder you are in California! Please stay there, while people of means leave. Meanwhile your city pension will be worthless, and you will be living in the street with all the other homeless drug addicts. Carryon Mikie!

  • Michael J. Young

    I guess the 300 new building permits, the new condos on both sides of the river, the convention center expansion and the new Hyatt Hotel, and the fact that there are nearly NO vacant buildings in our 505 building downtown Toledo doesn’t count.

    You’re an amateur and SO TYPICAL of all the negative cynical bomb throwers when who have never done a thing but whine while REAL Toledoans have fostered an URBAN RENAISSANCE in downtown from Adams to Main Street and Cherry to Swan Creek, $104 million in a new Federal Courthouse, millions in a new MetroPark on the east side to compliment the one at the Middlegrounds, and its only getting started!

    Seriously. Take you attitude to Lima or Fostoria… somewhere where your BS might impress the rubes.